Published on 28 Jan 2013 Sections , ,

Iran ‘sends monkey to space’

Iranian state television reports that a monkey was successfully sent into space on a manned rocket flight before returning to the ground intact.

According to the state news agency, the macaque was strapped into a Kavoshgar rocket and reached an altitude of more than 120 km (75 miles) before returning back to earth.

There has been no independent confirmation of the report, which quoted a defence ministry statement. It said the launch coincide “within days of” the Prophet Mohammad’s birthday last week but gave no date.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said the county plans to send a man into space by 2019. In 2010 a turtle and rat made successful voyages in a rocket. But a year later Iran failed to launch a primate into space.

Western nations have expressed concerned that the long-range ballistic technology could be used to propel Iranian satellites into orbit and this could potentially be used to launch nuclear warheads.

Iran denies it has ambitions to develop nuclear weapons and says its nuclear activity is for peaceful energy only.